5 Reasons You Should Keep Your Beneficiary Designations Updated

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Have you ever considered the potential ‘inheritance surprises’ that might be hidden in your estate plan? 

The topic of updating beneficiaries frequently arises during our estate planning consultations. Even though individuals understand the importance intellectually, they still tend to procrastinate doing so. Keeping your beneficiary designations updated is crucial for several reasons. It ensures that your assets are distributed according to your wishes and can prevent potential complications and disputes.

Here are 5 important reasons to regularly review and update your beneficiary designations.

     1. Life Changes

Life is constantly evolving. Major life events such as marriage, divorce, the birth of a child, or the death of a loved one can significantly impact your desired beneficiaries. By updating your designations, you can accurately reflect these changes.

     2. Avoiding Unintended Consequences

Failure to update beneficiary designations can result in assets going to individuals or entities you no longer wish to benefit. This can lead to unintended consequences, disputes, or legal challenges.

     3. Estate Plan Alignment

Beneficiary designations play a crucial role in your complete estate plan. Keeping them up-to-date helps to maintain consistency and coherence within your estate plan. Failure to update beneficiaries may lead to inconsistencies among your will, trust, and beneficiary designations.

    4. Asset Protection

Regularly updating beneficiary designations allows you to consider asset protection strategies. For instance, consider naming a trust or an entity as a beneficiary to provide ongoing protection for assets or to address specific needs.

    5. Avoiding Probate

Assets with designated beneficiaries typically bypass the probate process, which can help save time and money for your loved ones and beneficiaries. It is important to ensure that the correct beneficiaries are named in order to keep this process efficient. 

In summary, review your beneficiary designations regularly to ensure they accurately reflect your wishes and circumstances, particularly after significant life changes or updates to your estate plan. It is advised to consult with your financial advisor, estate planning attorney, and/or the institutions holding your accounts to make any necessary changes and keep your financial affairs aligned with your goals.

This article is for educational purposes only, not to provide specific legal advice. It should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

For assistance with Maryland and D.C. wills, estate planning and probate, contact the

Law Offices of Elsa W. Smith, LLC at


Attorney Elsa W. Smith